The Exhibition

Following the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, the winners and selected entries will subsequently tour to:

Wolverhampton Art Gallery
24 September - 1 November 2011

Aberdeen Art Gallery
12 November 2011 - 21 January 2012

The exhibition tour is organised by the National Portrait Gallery

The annual BP Portrait Award is the most prestigious portrait competition in the world, promoting the very best in contemporary portrait painting. Over the past thirty-two years the Award has proved the launch pad for the careers of many successful portrait artists.

From intimate and personal images of friends and family, to revealing paintings of celebrity sitters, the exhibition presents a variety of styles and approaches that together illustrate the outstanding and innovative work currently being produced by artists of all ages and nationalities.

This year’s exhibition, featuring fifty-five works selected from a record 2,372 international entries, includes the four shortlisted artists – Ian Cumberland for Just to Feel Normal, Wim Heldens for Distracted, Sertan Saltan for Mrs Cerna and Louis Smith for Holly – as well as the BP Travel Award 2010 winner, Florence-based American artist Paul Beel.

For the second year the exhibition will be complemented by the BP Portrait Award: Next Generation project. Inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, BP Portrait Award: Next Generation gives opportunities for young people aged 14-19 to engage with portraiture. This year, young people can meet BP Portrait Award artists in short Taster Sessions over the London 2012 Open Weekend in July and in three-day Summer Schools in August, and upload their own portraits on the new project website:

Buy a BP Portrait Award 2011 catalogue

The competition was judged from original paintings by this year’s panel:

Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery, London
Rosie Broadley, Associate Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery, London
Paul Emsley, Artist, BP Portrait Award First Prize Winner 2007
Jonathan Jones, Art Critic, The Guardian
Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London (Chair)
Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP

    by Isobel Peachey, 2011
    © Isobel Peachey